Improving Usability of Design Challenge Platform
Iridescent Learning is an education non-profit that empowers children to become innovators and leaders through engineering and technology. Their Curiosity Machine platform teaches children about science and AI through hands-on design challenges.
Our main challenge was to improve the usability of the "Welcome Unit" and the design challenges. With limited resources, the client also asked us to take into consideration what design changes would be feasible for them to implement.
Heuristic Evaluation, Secondary Research, Interviews, Task Analysis, Hand Sketching, Wireframing, Prototyping, Usability Testing
Project Manager & UX Designer
The team also consisted of 1 UX Researcher and 2 UX Designers.
Guiding Our Design
The target audience of Curiosity Machine platform are children ages 8 to 15 and their families. However, we were unable to find people who matched that criteria to interview due to time constraints. We worked around this by interviewing teachers who had facilitated similar design challenge activities as well as parents.
In addition, we incorporated information from research provided by the client and assumptions that represent our theories of the user base to create a proto-persona. Jacqueline, our primary persona, is an engaged parent who wants her children to be successful in the future. Further research is needed in order to validate this proto-persona.
Building on the persona, we did a task analysis of how Jacqueline would complete a design challenge with the current site. This helped us identify points of frustration and opportunities for improvement when working on the design.
Main Issues Identified:
How to find appropriate design challenges based on child’s age
Important information can easily be missed (e.g. inspiration video, suggested materials)
How to find help when stuck on a challenge
Improving User Onboarding
In our redesign, we included a brief description explaining what the videos are about. The videos are in a playlist with AutoPlay on by default since we want users to watch all the videos. As the main reason families sign up for the platform is to have their children complete design challenges, we added a section to introduce the design challenges.
Getting Started Easily
With over 100 design challenges to choose from, parents and their children may have difficulty deciding which challenge to complete first.
We added a “Recommended” tag above several challenges, which would be relatively easier challenges that families can start from. If none of these interest them, we added additional filters for Difficulty Level and Age in addition to the existing Subject filter. This allows parents to find challenges that are appropriate for their child’s age.
In addition, we also recommended including a short preview of the challenge when hovering over a challenge. This can facilitate selecting a challenge without having to click into multiple individual challenges to get an idea of what to expect.
Revising the Layout
In our redesign, we moved the most important information to the top of the page. Users can view the inspiration video as well as the difficulty level and suggested materials for each design challenge. If users want additional information about challenges, it can now easily be found on this "Start" page instead of being hidden within a guide.
Having Fun While Learning
While children can dread planning, it is important they do so in order to successfully complete design challenges. We also wanted to make the planning stage more fun by allowing them to drag items into the "Materials You'll Use" box or adding their own materials. To avoid overwhelming children, we also added how much time should be spent planning and things to think about while in this stage.
Since children may not know what the design process is, we have included it in the "Build" stage. Each challenge is an opportunity to learn, and it is more about the experience than the end result. Even if they aren't successful at completing a challenge the first time, let them think outside the box and continuously build, test, and redesign until they are successful.
Results and Reflections
Based on usability tests, the redesign reached our success metric of 85% or above for usability. The client has also made changes to resolve usability issues identified by our team during review of the design challenges.
If we had more time and resources, it would be ideal to interview parents who had used the Curiosity Machine platform. It would also have been beneficial to watch families complete a design challenge. This would allow us to better understand their pain points and frustrations to better tailor our design.
I enjoyed working with Jessica who was the project manager for the UX team that worked on my organization's website. Her team was very professional not only in their approach to meeting with us as a client, but also in their deliverables and presentation, which my entire team enjoyed thoroughly. I was also impressed by the holistic overview they did of our program and site, as was echoed by my colleagues, who intend to use their work as we move forward with our website.
- Laura Preston, Program Coordinator at Iridescent Learning